1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
As we continue our journey on Living in the Last Days, we have landed for a moment so we can load up on encouragement! Yes, these passages deal with comforting one another! It’s difficult to understand our need to comfort one another if you don’t see what’s ahead! These New Testament saints thought that the Lord had returned and for whatever reason, they thought they had missed the Rapture of the church! After explaining to them the timing of this great snatching away, the Apostle Paul writes, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words”
In our previous blog, we pointed out that the word for ignorant comes from the Greek word Moronos which is actually translated Moron! Don’t be uninformed or ignorant of this mystery Musterion.
The Bible gives us a lot of information about this horrible period of seven years that is fast approaching. The entire book of Zephaniah is devoted to it. In addition to many other Old Testament passages, like Isaiah 24, fourteen chapters in the book of Revelation focus on it (Revelation 6-19). But despite all this information, there are many myths concerning the Great Tribulation that circulate among Christians. For example, many argue that the first half of this time period will be peaceful and that only the second half will be characterized by intense warfare. Other misconceptions relate to the Antichrist and the Church.
The first mention of the Tribulation in the Bible is found in Deuteronomy 4:27-30. Before the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses warned them that if they were unfaithful to God, they would be scattered among the nations. He then prophesied that “in the latter days” they would come under “distress,” and the result would be their “return to the Lord.”
Centuries later, Jeremiah used the same terminology when he referred to the Tribulation. He called it “the time of Jacob’s distress” (Jeremiah 30:7). In like manner, Daniel called it “the time of distress,” and he prophesied it would be the worst period of trouble in the history of the Jewish people (Daniel 12:1). Malachi stated it would be a time of refining for the Jews, as when silver is purified by fire (Malachi 3:1-4). And Zechariah used the same imagery when he prophesied that two-thirds of the Jewish people will perish during this time. Of the remnant remaining, he wrote, “I [the Lord] will bring the third part through the fire [and] refine them as silver is refined…” (Zechariah 13:8-9).
The Jews will not be the only ones to suffer during this period of unparalleled trouble. The Bible makes it clear that all the nations of the world will experience catastrophic calamities.
Isaiah says it will be “a day of reckoning” for all the nations of the world (Isaiah 2:10-17). Zephaniah says that “all the earth will be devoured in the fire of God’s jealousy” (Zephaniah 1:18). Here’s how the psalmist Asaph put it: “A cup is in the hand of the Lord, and the wine foams… surely, all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs” (Psalm 75:8).
The prophet Daniel defined the length of the Tribulation. He said God would accomplish all His purposes for the Jewish people during a period of 70 weeks of years (490 years). Sixty-nine of those weeks of years (483 years) would lead up to the death of the Messiah. The final week of years would occur at the end of the age, right before the return of the Messiah (Daniel 9:24-27). This concluding week of years (7 years) corresponds to the Tribulation for, as Daniel put it, it will mark the time when “the prince who is to come” will “make desolate” — a reference to the Antichrist.
The timing established by Daniel is confirmed in the book of Revelation where the Tribulation is divided into two periods of 3 1/2 years each (Revelation 11:3,7 and 13:5). The dividing point between the two halves of the Tribulation will occur when the Antichrist reveals himself by entering the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, stopping the sacrifices, and declaring himself to be god (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; and Revelation 13:5-6).
When will this terrible period begin? The Bible says in general terms that it will start after the Jews have been regathered and have been re-established in their homeland and in their sacred city of Jerusalem. This took place in May 1948!
Specifically, the Bible says it will begin at a time when all the world comes together against Israel over the issue of who will control the city of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3). In short, we are on the very threshold of the Tribulation today as we witness the United Nations, the European Union, the Vatican, and the Arab nations demanding that the Jews surrender their sovereignty over Jerusalem. This is taking place now!
So much is being said in six verses; as we look at these verses inductively, they reveal much.
There are two basic reasons for the Tribulation:
1A.The Reason for the Tribulation Period
1B. Testing for Israel Jer. 30:1-9; Ezek 20:33-39
2B. Triumph over all the Gentile nations of the world -Isa 24:20-22 Acts 1:6-8,
1 Thess. 1:8- 10, 1 Thess. 5:1-10; 1 Cor. 15:51
2A. The Reassurance regarding loved ones who have died v.13-14
2 Cor. 5:1-9
3A. The Return of Jesus Christ (Yeshua Messiah) – v.16
Jn.14:1-3, 27 Cf. Titus 2:11-13
1B. His Entrance – “Himself” v.16
2B. His Execution of Authority –
Jn. 5:24-29 “with a shout”
3B. His Escort - “Voice of the Archangel”
4B. His Exaltation – “trump of God” approval of God
4A. The Resurrection of all believers who have died (not OT saints Dan. 12)
1 Cor. 15:51-52 “Moment” –Phil 3:20-21
5A. The Removal of living believers out of this world v.17A
The term “Rapture” comes from a Latin word, “rapio,” that means “to catch up, to
snatch away, or to take out.” It is, in turn, a translation of the Greek word, “harpazo.”
So, “Rapture” is a Biblical word that comes right out of the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible. The word is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In the New American Standard Version, the English phrase, “caught up,” is used. The same phrase is used in the King James and New International Versions.
To summarize, these passages teach that the shout of an archangel and the blowing of a trumpet will herald the sudden appearance of Jesus in the heavens (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The dead in Christ will be resurrected and rise up to meet the Lord in the sky. Then, those saints who are alive will be “caught up” to the Lord. Paul concludes his description in 1 Thessalonians 4 by encouraging his readers to “comfort one another with these words."
And truly the Rapture is a comforting thought! Consider the promises contained in the concept of the Rapture. Jesus will bring with Him the spirits of those who have died in Him (1 Thessalonians 4:14). He will resurrect their bodies in a great miracle of
re-creation; He will reunite their bodies with their spirits; and He will then glorify their bodies, making them immortal. And those believers who are living will not even taste death. Rather, they will be caught up to the Lord, and in transit, they will be translated from mortal to immortal.
All my life I have heard that there are two things no one can avoid: taxes and death. Well, that is not true. According to 1 Thessalonians 4, a whole generation of believers will escape death. Taxes appear to be the only inevitability!
6A. The Reunion of all believers - 17B
“together with them” Moment in which we all arrive together “together”
WHEN? Hama’ – all together at that moment
WHERE? Clouds – Dan. 7:13, clouds of Glory (His presence) Heb. anan Ex.13:21
Mt.26:64; Luke 24:25-26; Acts 1:9, 1 Tim 3:16 “unto a meeting of the Lord” in GK
Meet the Lord – A planned meeting
7A. The Reality of being with the Jesus (Yeshua) forever - 17C
Cf. Rom 8:35-39
8A. The Remedy for all of our worry and fear v.18
“Not times and seasons” 1 Thess. 5:1-11
“comfort” Gk. parakaleo – called alongside to encourage!
1B. Instruction – eliminate mental difficulties – 5:8
2B. Encouragement – eliminate emotional depression - 5:11
3B. Admonition - eliminate personal defeat or defection – 5:6, 9
(no spiritual sleeping)
Regardless of when the Rapture actually occurs, we need to keep in mind that the Bible teaches that the conditions are going to grow increasingly worse the closer we get to the Lord’s return.
That means Christians will suffer tribulation whether or not they go into the Great Tribulation. And that means all of us had better be preparing ourselves for unprecedented suffering and spiritual warfare.
If you are a Christian, you can do that on a daily basis by putting on “the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13), praying at all times in the Spirit that you will be able to stand firm against the attacks of Satan (Ephesians 6:14-18).
If you are not a Christian, your only hope is to reach out in faith and receive the free gift of God’s salvation which He has provided through His Son, Jesus Christ. (John 3:16).
Those 1st century believers were so worried about missing this great even that the Apostle Paul worked tirelessly to calm them down.
Paul attempted to calm them down by reminding them of his teaching that the day of the Lord would not come until after the Antichrist is revealed. He then stated that the Antichrist would not be revealed until a restraining force “is taken out of the way”
(2 Thessalonians 2:3-7).
There has been a good deal of speculation as to the identity of this restraining force that
Paul refers to. Some have identified it as the Holy Spirit. But it cannot be the Holy Spirit
because there will be people saved during the Tribulation, and no one can be saved apart from the testimony of the Spirit (John 16:8-11 & 1 John 5:7).
Others have identified the restrainer as human government. It is true that government was ordained by God to restrain evil (Romans 13:1-4). But the governments of the world are in rebellion against God and His Son (Psalm 2), and they are therefore a contributor to the evil that characterizes the world. Furthermore, the Tribulation will not be characterized by a lack of government. Rather, it will feature the first true worldwide government (Revelation 13:7).
In my opinion that leaves only one other candidate for Paul’s restrainer — and that is the Church. It is the Church that serves as the primary restrainer of evil in the world today as it proclaims the Gospel and stands for righteousness. When the Church fails in this mission, evil multiplies, as Paul graphically points out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul says that society in the end times will be characterized by chaos and despair because “men will hold to a form of religion but will deny its power.” When the Church is removed from the world, all hell will literally break loose.
The Apostle Paul states that the Rapture is meant to encourage believers during this age (1 Thessalonians 4:18). And yet, what encouragement could the Rapture bring to any believer who thinks they will have to endure all the horrors of the coming 7-year Tribulation? What would be the point of the Rapture then? It wouldn’t really be “something really great to look forward to” if the Rapture was not to take place until the tribulation began, during or after the tribulation period.
Oh precious saints, are you prepared to meet the Lord in the air? Recently I have been telling a friend of mine over and over again, “It’s about priorities.” Don’t Kidd yourself, live for Him. Not with lip service, but with life service!
Our “blessed hope” in these last days - (Titus. 2:13).